1. Game of Thrones or Lord of the Rings?
I guess I prefer A Song of Ice and Fire since it makes a case for my own political beliefs. It’s months later and the line “Gren came from a farm” is still killing me.
2. Do you ever drink and draw? If not, are there any other vices you partake in while making art??
There’s a high degree of precision in the way I draw. I can’t even smoke when I’m inking because my hands shake. I listen to a lot of very silly podcasts so I don’t get stuck in my own thoughts. I fast.
3. What was the last good movie you’ve seen?
The last movie I watched was probably Hellbound: Hellraiser II for the hundredth time, it’s perfect in every way and such a comfort to me. When I’m sad, which is often, the Hellraiser movies are a mother’s embrace.
I’ve only seen the first 2 Hellraiser movies. It was a long time ago, but I remember Hellbound: Hellraiser II really freaking me out! What would be your 2nd favorite Hellraiser movie, and are there any other movies that have influenced you, and your work?
Oh, I’m only referring to the first two. I’m not sure if they’ve influenced my work, but they have definitely influenced my life. It’s possible I’ve never related to a fictional character more than I relate to Julia, freshly returned from hell, her entire body an open wound, seductively smearing blood around Dr. Channard’s pristine house.
Some other movies that have influenced me are The Conversation, Brother Sun Sister Moon, Bram Stoker’s Dracula, 2001: A Space Odyssey, Mulholland Drive, Antichrist, Dangerous Liaisons, and Akira Kurosawa’s Dreams. This is a strictly off-the-cuff and by no means complete list.
4. Your comics read like recalling a twisted, bad dream, but in a good way! What was the last bad dream you’ve had, and will we be seeing any of it in a future comic?
Just before waking up this morning I dreamed that my ex had sent me a text: “I checked out your Facebook and you’re adorable!” I doubt that will make its way into a comic.
5. Describe your worst dating experience.
Did you know that about a third of women in the US have experienced violent abuse at the hands of their intimate partners? Anyway, you’d be surprised how many men have tried to compliment me by saying I’m “intellectual for a girl.”
So, it sounds like you’ve run into your fair share of idiots. Sexism, and misogyny in the comics industry has been well documented. Besides the “intellectual for a girl” comment you mentioned, have you experienced a lot of sexism working in comics? Because of the sexual nature of your work, do you get any inappropriate comments, or unwanted advances from men(or women)?
Those “intellectual” comments came from dates, not comics people, but yes, like every woman in the public eye, I also get my share of inappropriately personal questions and remarks from strangers and near-strangers. Honestly I couldn’t say whether it’s just because I’m a woman, or because I’m a pornographer, or because my slightly haughty mien is interpreted as a challenge, or because comics or the internet are refuges for people with poor boundaries, or for a combination thereof or for some other reason altogether. Every year I get better at dismissing them in ways that give no satisfaction to even the most masochistic querent. And for what it’s worth, the finest people I’ve had the privilege to befriend have also been comics people.
6. What other comics do you like to read? Any favorites from 2014, so far? Also, do you read any mainstream/super-hero comics, or just small press stuff?
I barely read comics. I read whatever shows up on my tumblr dash, and most things people give me for free at conventions. I write a comics analysis column called Symbol Reader for The Comics Journal, and I co-maintain the Comics Democracy tumblr, so my eyes have technically been cast across everything posted there. I’m not tryna find nobody else to beat.
7. There’s a lot of imagery of the occult, and dark magic in your work. How far do you personally go with all of this stuff, belief-wise? Is it just something you explore in your stories, or have you gotten into it in your real life, too? No judging, here, by the way. I’m just curious.
I know more about historical occultism than most people I’ve met who claim to practice magic, but as far as my personal beliefs are concerned I’m a skeptic to the core. I barely believe in the laptop I’m typing this on.
8. Have you had any funny, or embarrassing moments being out in public at comics conventions/art shows/etc?
Probably the most embarrassing thing that happens at my convention table is when a man (it’s always a man) tries to “did you know…” me about something he saw in a comic of mine. It never goes well for him. Yes, I did know.
9. Your latest comic zine, Palm Ash, takes place during the Diocletianic Persecution, the last and most brutal persecution of Christians by the Romans in the early 300’s, following 3 different characters in the story. Do you enjoy writing historical fiction as much, or more than writing a story set in modern times? What other parts of history would you like to explore?
Medieval romances and Victorian gothic horror have both influenced me so deeply, it’s a crime that I haven’t yet published stories with those settings. As for Palm Ash, I realized it’s based more on accounts of the persecutions of Nero than Diocletian, so I should probably change that description. I love to write historical fiction, except for the inevitable point at which I have to give up on making it perfectly historically accurate and start hoping no historians will ever read it.
10. What else is on the slate for you the rest of 2014, and beyond? Will there be another full length graphic novel, like Black is the Color, coming out soon?
Sean T. Collins and I are working on another Edgar Allan Poe porn comic for CAB 2014, a follow-up to our In Pace Requiescat which came out last year. This one is based on “The Fall of the House of Usher.” The last time we talked about it I got so excited I started shaking my hands at the wrists as if they were wet.
Thank you, Julia!
Interview date: Sept. 2014 – A. Yates